Psalm 31: Soak in the Graces

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr

December 26, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, we pray with Psalm 31.

The Stoning of St. Stephen – Giovanni Lucini

Even while the gentle lights of Christmas linger, the Church reminds us that life in Christ requires a complete self-donation. Like Stephen, we pray to embrace that cost with courage and faith:

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.

Psalm 31: 6-8

Liturgically, we will be in the Christmas and Epiphany Season until January 10th. We have plenty of time to soak up the heavenly lights and the angelic songs as we slowly step back into an often shadowy world.

And I think the Church puts Stephen’s martyrdom so starkly at this juncture to remind us to SOAK – to fill our tanks with Christmas grace so that we are ready to accompany Christ in his ministry.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.

Psalm 31: 3-4
Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco – Caravaggio

While your crèche is still enshrined in your home, take a morning to kneel beside Mary. Ask to learn her secrets for living fully in Christ. 

  • Do the same one morning with Joseph. Learn from his silent strength.
  • Learn from the shepherds who received astounding revelation with simple, unquestioning faith.
  • Learn from the animals who stand pure and guileless in the presence of God.
  • Ask to be ready, like Stephen, to give everything for what you learn.

I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My destiny is in your hands;
rescue me from any darkness,
from all pulls me away from you.
Let your face shine on your me
embrace me completely in your mercy.

Psalm 31: 16-17

Poem: THE STABLE by Sr. M. Chrysostom, O.S.B.

The winds were scornful,
Passing by;
And gathering Angels 
Wondered why
A burdened Mother 
Did not mind 
That only animals 
Were kind.
For who in all the world 
Could guess 
That God would search out 

Music: Martyr Dei ( Martyr of God)

Martyr Dei, qui (quæ) unicum
Patris sequendo Filium,
victis triumphas hostibus,
victor (victrix) fruens cælestibus.
Tui precatus munere
nostrum reatum dilue,
arcens mali contagium,
vitæ repellens tædium.
Soluta sunt iam vincula
tui sacrati corporis;
nos solve vinclis sæculi,
amore Filii Dei.
Honor Patri cum Filio
et Spiritu Paraclito,
qui te corona perpeti
cingunt in aula gloriæ.

Martyr of God, whose strength was steeled
To follow close God’s only Son,
Well didst thou brave thy battlefield,
And well thy heavenly bliss was won!
Now join thy prayers with ours, who pray
That God may pardon us and bless;
For prayer keeps evil’s plague away,
And draws from life its weariness.
Long, long ago, were loosed the chains
That held thy body once in thrall;
For us how many a bond remains!
O Love of God release us all.
All praise to God the Father be,
All praise to Thee, eternal Son;
All praise, O Holy Spirit, to Thee
While never ending ages run.

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